Wednesday, March 25, 2009

"On September 3rd 1973, at 6:28pm and 32 seconds, a bluebottle fly capable of 14,670 wing beats a minute landed on Rue St Vincent, Montmartre."

Sometimes I would stand in the stacks and practice my French while shelving books.
dooblehvay dooblehvay dooblehvay
eeks
egrek
zed
Je deteste ma vie
Oui oui oui
I saw the film Belle du Jour while babysitting for the Kline family on the top of the hill in town. They had a TV room with shimmery glass windows and comfy couches.
After tucking in the children I poured myself a large glass of box wine and watched the film.
I felt intense and moody and lustful and perplexed at the perfection of Séverine's hair.
Things changed as I systematically watched the families foreign film collection that year.
I was fixated on Catherine Deneuve, and discovered Vincent Perez.
I would practice sultry between the massive bookshelves.
In my mind I was a divine mixture of Audrey Hepburn, Deneuve, and Madonna.
I was classy. That was my new thing.
Just like when I discovered jazz and it stitched me in my side and
made me more than the acres of woods I was from.
French made me cooler that my town.
I wore a polka dot scarf around my neck for three weeks.
I pulled on jaunty berets and menswear clothing.
I was going to Paris the moment I turned 18.
I had already researched the metro map that my French teacher Madame Brown had brought back last year from her honeymoon to math teacher Mr. Hedges.
Madame Brown talked endlessly of Paris and how writer's sat in cafes and smoked and drank coffee and read Sartre- living the dream she would say.
She was so worldly and wise and yet she was here. In Shitville, USA. Why?
I would trace her bulletin boards of France with my fingers, wishing to be there.
I wanted to lay on Jim Morrison's grave and lick it.
I wanted to go into bookstores and cafes and get lost.
I wanted to kiss a French boy.
I didn't know it then, but I would do those things.
All of them and more during a summer where time was still slow, my skin invincible, and the whole world revolved around me.
I didn't know it then either that Madame Brown would die in a plane crash in Germany five years after I left that cow town.
I read it in the local paper while home visiting my parents.
She was survived by a name that sounded very French and may have been attached to a Vincent Perez lookalike. Mr Brown was history and for as sad as I was for a moment about her death, I was delirious for her as my mother poured the coffee and told me all about how Madame Brown had a mid life crisis and left Mr. Brown and moved to Provence.
Madame Brown died a happy woman I think.
And this has made all the difference.


title post- Amelie 2001

11 comments:

Neil said...

I know a few good French curse words. Sounds sexier in French than translated...as usual.

Deb on the Rocks said...

THAT is the midlife crisis that might be brewing under my skin this very moment. Pour je deteste ma vie de la mid.

At least you've made me want to see 8 Femmes again.

heather said...

Last night I had one of these moments, longing for the summer I spent in Czech Republic--was that life just a summer so many years ago? Do I really only live in a Dallas suburb now? But am I as unhappy as my melancholy alter ego likes to think I am? Or have I somehow found a place here, too?

Caroline said...

This is such a beautiful post. Like a big beautiful dream. I love Amelie. I love Belle de Jour. And I love the story of your French teacher-at least that she got to run away to Provence. I loved mine, too. Mme Stafl. It was a sad day when she moved and was replaced by Mme. Smart. I kept taking French for years, out of devotion to the one who left.

Alexis said...

I love that post. It makes me want to cry and smile at the same time.

nkp said...

J'adore your writing...high school french eludes me at the moment, so that's all I've got. Oh, wait-
vous etes fantastique!

amy turn sharp of doobleh-vay said...

thanks ya'all

Martha said...

The Amelie quote caught my attention...one of my favorite movies of all time. I'll be in a good mood all day thinking about it. Thanks!

Kamy said...

It was a whole different thing to hear you read this at Blogher tonight; I wonder if there's a way to get your voice and your reading of this onto your site? I'd love to feature a video of the reading on shewrites.com. Your delivery was so great.

Anonymous said...

What's "oiu"? Do you mean "oui"?


This is an excellent post, by the way.

amy turn sharp of doobleh-vay said...

thanks! I talked in the storytelling that I honestly don't even spell check these daily practice posts- so embarrassing! Sorry! thanks! I should do better really! lol
thank you for yr kindness. xo

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